Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

Learn More

The Germans Have a Word for the Slow Days of Late Summer: Sommerloch

You know that time in summer when everything slows down and not much is going on? The German word sommerloch neatly sums it up. But where did it come from?

How to Talk to Your Friends About Race and Remain Friends

Why do conversations about race get so awkward? And what are some ways to keep them friendly and productive?

5 Things to Know About Native American Languages Spoken in the 21st Century

The majority of Native Americans speak the English language, so how many Native American languages are still in existence and being spoken today? It's a complicated question.

Sign Language Interpreters Steal the Show During COVID-19 News Conferences

Sign language interpreters provide critical lifelines to the deaf community, especially during crises. So who exactly are these superhero signers?

Why Xenophobia Thrives in Troubled Times

Xenophobia, or the fear of immigrants and strangers, has a long, unsettling history in the U.S. and across the globe. What makes this prejudice so prominent during hard times throughout history?

'Franglais' on the Rise, Say French Language Watchdogs

And it's expressions like 'fake news' (instead of information fallacieuse) and 'cool! that are to blame.

What's the Difference Between Misogyny and Sexism?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct meanings. We'll explain how they're different.

'Gender-friendly' Tips for a Nonbinary World

Our daily language is often geared for a world that recognizes people as either male or female. But with our growing recognition that not everyone falls into these categories, how can we speak more gender-inclusively?

Do You Have to Open Gifts In Front of Guests?

Over the holidays, lots of gift-giving will be going on. But some people get anxious about opening a gift in front of the giver in case they don't like it and can't fake enough enthusiasm.

Why Do We Scratch Our Heads When We're Thinking?

How did this natural tic become the signal for so many social expressions?

Why Rudeness Is So Contagious

Rudeness is not just a personal annoyance. It can actually affect health and safety. Why is that? And why do we replay a rude interaction over and over in our heads?

Cake, Candles and Check: Who Pays the Birthday Dinner Bill?

It doesn't get more awkward than the check arriving and no one knows who's paying for what. Is it rude to expect birthday guests to pay for their own meal?

Why Do We Have Middle Names?

Middle names aren't a purely modern invention, so why do we still have them?

Boston, New York, Texas: The Origins of These and Other Great American Accents

What does Boston have against the letter R? Why do Minnesotans sometimes drag out the 'O' sound?

It's a Small World, and It's Wiping Out Languages

The world boasts about 7,000 languages. Close to half are threatened with extinction.

How Accents Work

Despite what you might think, everyone has an accent. It just becomes noticeable when it's different from others in the same community. How do accents develop and why is it so hard to lose one?

Taking Up Two Parking Spaces Is Clearly Horrible, But May Not Be Illegal

Surely a level of Hell is reserved for inconsiderate parkers. But can the police actually write them a ticket? Well, it depends...

How Different Accents Develop Within the Same Language

There are two main factors that influence the development of unique accents within a language: human nature and isolation.

What Does It Take to Fit Into a Nation? Speak the Dominant Language, Many Say.

Speaking a country's native language counts for a lot — even more than birthplace — when it comes to national identity, according to a new Pew survey.

The Southern Accent Is Dying, Y'all

When there's a big influx of Northerners into a Southern city, why do the locals begin to lose their Southern accents, as opposed to the other way around?

How Code Switching Works

Ever dialed up or down your accent depending on whom you're speaking with? Or switched from one language to another mid-sentence? Even if you haven't, you've seen it done. Why do people do that — and is it conscious?

Is it rude to point out someone else's rudeness?

Ever met a person who wouldn't hand over an item until the receiver said "the magic word"? As it turns out, that person may be rude too.